LONDON

Look no further than London to find the most magical city in the world.

 

Sure, it’s a right of passage to visit Big Ben and the London Eye, but London is so much more than taking selfies in front of red telephone booths and riding around in double decker busses.

 

So when you have the privilege of visiting this culturally rich city, dig deeper to scratch the surface of what London really is.

After living there last summer and visiting a few times prior, I want to tell you about my favorite places you might not find on Trip Advisor.

 

Here is a personal account of recommendations that make London what it is to me, broken down by category.

FOOD AND DRINKS

Don’t get your hopes up for the food in London. The Brits are good at just about everything but food is not their forte. Nonetheless, here are some pubs and restaurants that I won’t soon forget.

Sketch: This is the quirkiest teahouse I’ve ever seen. Peruse every floor to find a room clad in all thinks pink, a fashion portrait of the queen and bathroom pods that look like spaceship eggs.

O’Neill’s in Chinatown: This became our go-to spot. Young people and live music was a foolproof combination.

Ye Old Cheshire Cheese: There has been a pub in that location since 1538 and this particular one was built after the Great Fire of London in 1666, meaning this pub is one of the oldest pubs in London. And it hasn’t changed since. Sitting there imagining all the people who have sat there before you is an amazing time traveling feeling.

Madison at St. Paul's: See quite the view of central London while enjoying a swanky drink on a beautiful terrace.

DESTINATIONS

London is full of hidden gems and well kept secrets. I encourage you to ride the tube and get off at places you don't know much about. It might lead you to finding places like this.

Olympic Park: If you travel a bit outside the central part of the city, you’ll find the facilities built for the 2008 summer Olympics. Rent a bike to see as much as possible.

Udderbelly: Though it was probably a temporary summer installation, this festival right in the center of South Bank stole my heart. Multiple nights a week, we stopped by to get a Moo Brew and gourmet waffle from Waffle On while sitting outside under string lights and Chinese lanterns.

Primrose Hill: As the sun is setting, unwind with a picnic and a bottle of wine at the top of this hill. View every famous building in the distance while you enjoy your feast.

Globe Theatre: See a show at the Globe Theatre where Shakespearean plays are performed there in the same way they have been since 1599. Get there early and be prepared to stand for a few hours unless you want to pay for a balcony seat.

EXPERIENCES

Some of the best things in life are things money can't buy. That bike ride in the park or stroll along the river could just become some of your most cherished memories.

Bike around Hyde Park: Rent a bike inside the park and take a ride around. Stop inside the park to get ice cream and see the fountains.

Take a walk in South Bank along the Thames: This is where I lived so I might be bias, but get off at Embankment tube stop see all the iconic spots at once. Check off bucket listers like Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge while walking alongside London’s most famous river.

NEIGHBORHOODS

Don’t get your hopes up for the food in London. The Brits are good at just about everything but food is not their forte. Nonetheless, here are some pubs and restaurants that I won’t soon forget.

Notting Hill:  Walk around and dream about which houses you’d want to live in because Notting Hill is the most picturesque neighborhood in all of London. I’m still working towards that white house with black shutters, a white tile driveway and a black cast iron fence.

Camden: Camden is the iconic birthplace of punk rock and legends like Amy Winehouse. Explore Camden Market to find interesting goods from around the world and the best street food in London.

Covent Garden: This is one of my favorite areas to shop and eat. Go towards the center to find a market and lots of street performers.

Shoreditch: Some of the most famous street artists in the world leave their marks here like Stik and Banksy. Every time you visit you’ll find a new work of art painted over an old. Keep an eye out for the mysterious mushrooms installed all over the roofs and walls of the neighborhood.

MUSEUMS

Like any iconic city, London has museums galore. All of them are worth your time. However, if I had to narrow it down, I would suggest these two as the ones you won't want to pass up.

V & A: The Victoria and Albert is the Best museum in London, in my opinion. I’ve seen this museum five times and the fashion and furniture sections never get old. Take a break with a drink at the café and enjoy it outside by the pond.

British Museum: The Rosetta Stone Alone makes this museum worth the visit. In all, this museum of artifacts has iconic pieces from all over the world. Not to mention, you’ll recognize many of the scenes from Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.